I'm glad everyone is enjoying this TR. Going through all these photos makes me want to go back, but being as that isn't very practical at the moment, I'll have to content myself with . . .
Chapter 2--"Of All the Theme Parks in All the Towns in All the World": Warner Bros. Movie World
Ah, remember the big movie-studio-park craze of the 1990s? Yes, after seeing the success of Disney and Universal, other movie studios, being the original thinkers they are, thought they should could get a piece of that sweet action. Big wheels wearing big suits and smoking big cigars, in-between snorting big lines of coke, figured, "Hey--we need to be on this 'synergy' bandwagon. What's good for the Mouse is good for us! Call some people! Make it happen!"
And so Warners and Paramount did--until they decided to bail.
But there is one park that bears the name "Warner Bros." and it's on the Gold Coast of Australia. And it's a very good park, too--nicely themed with the two best coasters Down Under:
Superman Escape--This is a very good Intamin launched coaster, sort of a "mini-Xcelerator." But although the ride itself is brief, it makes up for that with a well-done dark-ride section depicting an earthquake and nice pops of airtime after an intense launch. Movie World did a great job theming this coaster. Some American parks could learn something from this ride.
Scooby-Doo's Spooky Coaster--This is a Mack "mouse in a box" with yet another nicely done dark-ride portion. The elevator lift, backward section, and "rave" like light show are plusses, too. Lots of fun. It really makes Six Flags Dark Knight coasters look sad.
Road Runner Roller Coaster--A well-themed Rollerskater, which follows a fairly long course. How many rides play the entire soundtrack (dialogue, music, and sound effects) of classic Looney Tunes while you wait in line? (Well, to me this is cool. Others may disagree.)
Lethal Weapon: The Ride--On the one hand, this ride's queue is well themed. On the other, it's an SLC (Satan's Looping Coaster). In fact, this was the roughest SLC I've ever ridden; however, others told me that the one at Kentucky Kingdom was even worse.
Movie World's other highlights include a good stunt-car show, a fun, Western-themed log flume, and a good Batman simulator ride. What this park needs is one or two more "big" rides to put it over the top. Oddly enough, a "real" dark ride would be a good addition, I think; they've already proven they can do it with coasters.
But, all in all, this a solid park that's defintely worth a visit. There's plenty to do to fill up your day. I rate it a cut above its German cousin, Movie Park.
Let's take a look at Movie World--after we get out of Sydney and over to Surfers Paradise, of course.
TPR tackled the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb the day after we visited Luna Park.
The bridge is about 440 feet above sea level at this point. To give you some perspective, that's roughly 140 feet taller than the Drop Tower at Kings Dominion! (Strange how KD has popped up twice in this report.)
Proof that we were there! On the end is a random Swedish woman who filled out our group.
Next stop, Surfers Paradise, where we were greeted with a deluge--and this excellent view from our hotel.
Dan said that he could "get used to this"--same here!
Uh oh! Foreshadowing!
But, for now, the weather is OK.
I imagine those top-floor penthouses are a wee bit out of my price range. (Hell, a dumpster in the basement is probably out of my price range.)
We were greeted with some sunshine at our first Gold Coast park: Movie World. You can tell this is a "movie park" because of the ever so Art Deco lettering.
"All transactions," you say? OK, I'd like a season pass with a side order of curly fries and a Coke Zero--and can you transfer some cash from my savings to my checking account and convert $100 Australian to Swedish kroner? Thank you so much.
Rather than paying a "group rate" for each Gold Coast park we wanted to visit, it was cheaper for everyone to "join the National Year of Fun" by getting a season pass (complete with a "Have you seen this man?" mugshot).
Our first stop--Superman Escape (not to be confused with Superman: THE Escape or Escape from Krypton), for a bit of filming and ERT.
"Lois! Kent! Drop that 'Massive earthquakes threaten city' story and get to the bottom of this 'gift shop' thing!"
"Find out what the so-called Man of Steel's game is here!"
"I don't care that he just saved a bunch of commuters from certain death!"
"Hell, he saves the world three times a day before breakfast!"
"Yes, I'm well aware that Superman doesn't need to eat breakfast, Kent! But it's not every day that he opens a gift shop!"
Wow--Velma has not aged well! Must be all the frustration over her failure to establish sexual relations with either Shaggy or Daphne.
From the sublime to the, well, SLC.
Movie World did a great job theming Lethal Weapon's queue. My hat's off to them for that. Here we see what's left of Mel Gibson's career.
Yes, they did capture the atmopshere of corruption and decay of that surounds the star of that movie series.
But it's an SLC, which is also a pretty good metaphor for Mel Gibson: photogenic, but rough and nasty.
A kiddie coaster is sounding pretty good about now.
Movie World strikes again with another well-themed ride.
Even the "No Entry" sign is themed.
You gals have fun riding that ACME Rocket Sled.
As usual, Wile E. Coyote is screwed over by the ACME Corporation.
But I guess the allure of being the first to own a "Rocket Sled" was just too much for the poor guy. More to come.
That's NOT all, folks! More from Warner Bros. Movie World.
Movie World has distilled The Wizarding World of Harry Potter down to its essential essence.
Don't let its amazing resemblance to a "seat" or "bench" fool you.
Every "movie studio" park must have some sort of exhibit about the illusion of depth provided by "forced perspective." This is Movie World's. As you can tell, I was blown away by the power of this illusion. I'm sure you are, too.
Next up, a stunt-car show that is 1) just about long enough and 2) not hampered by fits and starts that screw up its pacing (although there is some lamebrained comic relief).
"Producer's note to self: Our stunt drivers need to lose some weight."
"This show needs something! And I'm here to tell you that! That's why I'm on the BIG SCREEN, baby!"
Chapter 3--Coasters, Critters, and Half-Naked TPR Members: Sea World and Wet 'n' Wild
When it comes to sea-life parks, I'm more into the walkthrough aquariums and habitats than the shows. I mean how many times can you watch a dolphin, killer whale, seal, or a tuna fish leap in the air or play a set of car horns before it ceases to amuse? Better to amble by as they swim around.
This is why Sea World Australia (no relation to Sea Worlds in the States) fills the bill for me. Yes, they have shows, but they keep them to less than 20 minutes--perfect! The dolphin show is pretty good. The obligatory comic seal-lion show and pirate stunt show, not as much. The performers in the stunt show were an energetic bunch, anyway--all gymnastics and diving champions. But Elissa wins my vote for Comment of the Day, when she quipped that these kinds of shows are where such champions "go to die." (Espeically those who fail make the cut for Cirque or Barnum and Bailey.) One other thing about Sea World's shows--this is the first time I've ever seen a trained pelican.
Their walkthough habitats are pretty well done. For example, the penguin exhibit lets you get pretty close to the penguins (albeit behind a thick sheet of glass) because you aren't separated from them by a wide moat. There's an underwater section where you can watch them swim around, too. Shark Reef is also good, if not as awe-inspiring as the Shark Encounter in Orlando. But, as we all know, sharks are always cool.
There's a surprisingly good family coaster here, too: Jet Rescue. This is an Intamin tire-launched coaster that follows a twisting course while you ride on "Jet Skis." (This ride is what Knott's Pony Express should've been like.) The theming is a bit odd, though--something about riding your Jet Ski into a "blowhole" to save a "majestic sea lion," who apparently doesn't fancy being in a blowhole (or being blown, I guess). The park's other coaster, Sea Viper, is an old Arrow loopscrew that, in Robb's words, "didn't kill us," which is good. Not a great ride, but OK for what it is.
Sea World also offers an average flume ride themed to Vikings and a fairly substantial Sesame Street kids area.
Wet 'n' Wild is a decent water park, but I think we may have caught them on an off day. Their new Aqua Loop slide was shutdown--something about peeling the skin off of riders' backs--as was their Tornado slide. The park's Intamin halfpipe coaster, Surfrider, is fun and spins quite a bit, and I liked their other slides. My only real complaint was their "no single rider" policy on many attractions. I understand this is essential on some slides (Aquazoid at Water Country in Williamsburg will "valley" if there isn't enough weight in the raft, for example), but it can be a bit awkward if you're part of an odd-numbered group. David and I ended up sharing a few rafts and tubes together, and when you put two guys as big as us in one raft, you can get some speed. We actually touched the top wall of their "halfpipe" slide, Kamikaze--BANZAI!
The ERT on the park's Flowrider was a lot of fun (even if it was bit chilly that night). This was my first crack at one of these. I started out pretty well, but lost my boogie board and had to get off--only to slip and fall flat on my back. (Good thing it was like landing on a wet pillow.) I'm looking forward to trying this again.
This was also the night we took in the Australian Outback Spectacular--the Down Under version of Medieval Times or Dixie Stampede. This show involves horses, cows, sheeps, pigs, World War I, explosions, and a helicopter. I was surprised a koala version of Godzilla didn't show up. It was also involved steak and unlimited beer, wine, or soda, which works for me. Some TPR members, including Kristin, even got to be a part of the show.
All in all, a great day with some new stuff I'd never tried before. Both parks treated us really well, too.
Meanwhile, back at Surfers Paradise . . .
. . . Chuck is pointing at the ocean. Why? He doesn't know. It's just a strange compulsion.
And what about these strange birds? What role do they have to play?
Buddha serving burgers and coffee? Why? And does he have fries, onion loaf, or both? It is all a deep, dark mystery that has haunted my dreams for weeks!
My dreams to "tout" and "busk" have been shattered! Why such a cruel fate? Why, why, why?
At least there's always Steak Cafe. Yes, we will always have steak. It heals many wounds, even while it clogs your arteries.
Enough existential angst--time for Sea World!
My angst has returned! I am not only stopped from "touting" and busking," but also denied my eskie! Oh, the injustice of it all!
Robb is thinking deep thoughts: "Why am I holding this bag? What significance could it have? Do I smell fries? I wonder if there's any frozen Vault here? God, I hope so!"
First stop: Jet Rescue, a family coaster themed to blasting through a "blow hole" to save a "majestic sea lion." What did it all mean?
Cut it out, cantcha?! Just enjoy yourself!
NO MORE ANGST! EVER!
Well, maybe just a little angst.
What does not kill you . . .
. . . makes you stronger!
And, yes, we are all stronger for this experience.
We searched for the elusive entrance to the flume ride. This ray was no help at all.
Nor was this penguin.
Well, he had other things on his mind.
Perhaps we should climb this peak for a better view. Might spot the flume entrance from up there.
Crap! I brought my rope and pitons for nothing. (This is actually part of the Bermuda Triangle splashboat ride, which was down for a big refurb. I'm told it's pretty good.)
Er, I hope this isn't the flume ride.
Is that it? Looks like someone's patio.
At last, we may set sail and die like Vikings!
Or at least get slightly damp--like Vikings.
Hoo, boy . . .
Yes, it looks like we're on a collision course with wackiness.
They're sitting in the "We Have No Friends" section.
"G'day, Scott and Matt."
OK, let's get one thing straight: These are "Fish Detectives."
Not "Fish Police." The Aussies have had more success with a show about aquatic law enforcement than CBS did.
Adding a "bestiality" element may be one explanation for SW's greater success with the "Fish Detectives" concept. CBS was just too squeamish to explore this area.
OK, more than I wanted to see.
Must . . . avert . . . eyes . . .
Hey, not too many shows have a trained pelican! At least, I think he's supposed to be part of the show.
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